With our ship's arrival, the camp's population jumped from 30 to 35 people, tiny compared to the 1,000 or so who occupy McMurdo. And forget about commuting — everyone lives, works and spends their free time together in an area not much bigger than a high school campus. It makes for a wonderfully close-knit community.
The scientists here work six days a week — often seven — on a variety of polar projects. There's a seabird group (penguins!), a team looking at the water and the little things that live in it (phytoplankton!), a group getting ready to launch an autonomous underwater glider (robots!), and more (more!). And the support staff is equally interesting: cooks, carpenters, boating specialists, logistics experts, a doctor. Over the next three weeks, I'll be hanging out with all of them, learning about what they do and how they do it.
After unloading its cargo of fresh supplies for Palmer Station, the Laurence M. Gould cast off its lines and pulled away from the dock. As I watched it slowly chug away, the reality of my situation set in: For the next three weeks, Antarctica is my home.
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